‘We’re playing for the gaffer, our families, the fans and the badge’ – says Bartosz Bialkowski

Smells like team spirit: Ipswich Town quintet Joe Garner, Grant Ward, Luke Chambers, Freddie Sears a

Smells like team spirit: Ipswich Town quintet Joe Garner, Grant Ward, Luke Chambers, Freddie Sears and Jonas Knudsen share a moment in pre-season. Photo: Ipswich Town FC - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town’s team spirit can help them beat the Championship’s big-spenders once again this season, believes keeper Bartosz Bialkowski.

The Blues’ close-knit squad defied the odds to secure a play-off place in 2014/15, but things have stagnated badly since then and last season’s 16th-place finish represented the worst campaign in 58 years.

Manager Mick McCarthy has reduced his numbers significantly this summer – 14 players departing and four new faces arriving – and the hope is that a feeling of unity and underdog spirit can get Town punching above their weight again.

“It has always been the case here that the togetherness in the dressing room has been very good,” said Bialkowski, speaking ahead of tomorrow’s Championship opener against Birmingham City at Portman Road (3pm ko).

“We are a very close group, all friends with each other, and I think you need that when you look at what others are spending.

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“We have a few new additions for the new season and they are top guys. We have a specific type of banter in the dressing room that brings all the lads together.

“When I first came to England I couldn’t understand the banter, but now I love it! You give each other a little bit of stick and you have to take it as well. We’ve got our own WhatsApp group but we don’t want anything to be leaked from that!

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“Every single one of us wants to be successful and wants to bring success to Ipswich. We are desperate for some success and this club deserves it. We truly believe it’s going to be the case this season.”

Around 2,000 season ticket holders have chosen not to renew this summer ahead of a 16th successive campaign in the second-tier, with the mood undoubtedly gloomy during the back end of 2016/17. Last weekend’s 6-1 friendly thrashing at league One side Charlton Athletic did little to help matters.

“It is not a question of trying to prove people wrong because we know that as a team we didn’t perform last season,” said Bialkowski. “I just hope they get behind the lads and show them the support because we need them behind us.

“We have been on holiday to clear our heads and now it’s back to business. I’ve been missing that Saturday buzz.

“We’re playing for the gaffer, for ourselves, our families, the fans, the club and the badge.”

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